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The requirements to be competitive are greater in football than in any sport sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League. That’s why there are seven classes, three more than found in any other state tournament.

Numbers are crucial in football. Numerous large athletes are crucial in football. If one team has those qualities and the other does not, the matchup comes with extra physical danger.

That’s why the “every team gets a chance’’ philosophy of playoff competition that permeates the MSHSL’s tournament schedule should be dropped for football.

There were 365 football teams in Minnesota this fall: 63 in Nine-Man, 61 in 1A, 58 in 2A, 58 in 3A, 47 in 4A, 47 in 5A and 31 in 6A.

There are supposed to be 32 in 6A, but Coon Rapids successfully begged out for 2017 after a long losing streak. There are other schools ready to follow that approach: 6A schools by enrollment, but lobbying to compete in 5A.

There is a simple strategy to take the politics and poor-mouthing out of football assignments: Apply a qualifying standard for the playoffs. For the 11-man classifications, if you finish in the top of half of a subsection, you’re in; if you’re in the bottom half, get ready for hockey, basketball or wrestling.

(Note: Multisport athletes help to make America great, which is a topic for another Sunday.)

How do you break ties in the subsection for playoff qualification? Teams in the same subsection are supposed to play one another. If they don’t, the MSHSL has messed up the subsection assignments.

I watched Eden Prairie and Edina on Wednesday night. Edina is very good, with numerous outstanding athletes. And it was no match for the strength, speed and ferocity of Eden Prairie.

Agreed, Coon Rapids would have no business playing Eden Prairie in an 8 vs. 1 seed. Rather than drop the Cardinals into a class where they don’t belong by enrollment, there should be no 8s vs. 1s.

Allow the teams that were third-, fourth- and lower levels to conclude their schedules at the end of the regular season. That would beat succumbing to politics and poor-mouthing.

PLUS THREE

Finally, the Minnesota winter in which hoops rules:

• Wolves narrowed arena gap on Wild, plus had much better offseason in adding Jimmy Butler, Jamal Crawford, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague and chef David Fhima.

• The longest currently serving Pitino in big-time basketball, Richard, has the U’s first Big Ten title threat in two decades.

• Prep hoops: Tre Jones and three Gophers recruits as seniors, plus Minnehaha’s Jalen Suggs, No. 4-rated sophomore in U.S.

Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at preusse@startribune.com.